I found out, through a front-page article in The Oregonian the other day, that my old boss and friend and father-figure Bob Gerding had finally succumbed to the cancer he’d been living with for many years. He was 71.
Bob is always going to have a place in my heart. I worked for him from 1987 – 1994 and became fast friends with his wife Diana and son Eric. He was honestly like a father to me. I still remember vividly a number of times when he pulled me into his office and said “what’s going on?” and I burst into tears because I was 20 something and going through infertility. He reminded me of my dad, only better. He listened. He paid attention. He made me feel like he would be there for me, like a parent, no matter what.
And when I was getting divorced and needed a job after 10 years of staying home with my (adopted) kids, Bob was the first person I called. He didn’t have anything for me but he knew a guy… and boom, just like that I had a good job and was on my way to a new and better life. I don’t think he ever knew how much that meant to me.
The last time I saw Bob was 2 years ago. I was at OHSU getting my last chemo treatment when he walked in the door. He was getting a treatment, too. He came over and sat with me and my parents for what seems like hours, entertaining us with stories and distracting me from my pain and fatigue. It was an absolutely wonderful end to my chemo horrors, and a lovely catch-up with a wonderful man.
Rest in peace Bob. You affected so many people in your too-short life and you leave an incredible legacy through your work with Gerding Edlen. But to me, you leave a memory of great love for life and for those you came into contact with. I might have just been an administrative assistant/office girl, but you treated me with dignity and respect and like part of your family. I was very blessed to know you.